The golden hills of the well-paid trendy people are a very special place. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers owns a Music Conservatory here, everything smells like skunk, and there’s a foot clinic with a swiveling picture sign of a happy foot/sad foot that holds immense local superstition. Silver Lake is weird. And up until about a decade ago, it was also a complete and utter food desert.
Luckily, those dark days are well behind us and Silver Lake is overflowing with fantastic restaurants. Here’s our complete list of them.
You could study a map all day to figure out whether Freedman’s is technically in Silver Lake or Echo Park, but it’d be a lot more fun to give up and drive to this spot on Sunset for a reuben and a couple of martinis. Freedman’s serves their own version of Jewish deli food, and a meal here will inevitably involve cured fish, NWA on the speakers, and (possibly) some free house-made amaro at the end. Like a lot of spots in this part of town, it’s fancy-but-casual, so even though there’s wallpaper that’s likely Gucci inspired, you can still wear yoga pants here. There’s a lot to like on the menu, so either bring a group, or plan for multiple trips. If you’re with a bunch of people, order the brisket: it’s served tableside, and they cut it with one of those electric carving knives you thought went extinct in 1995.
Alimento is the tiny neighborhood Italian spot where you take your parents to prove how far you’ve come. That’s not to say it’s wildly expensive – it’s actually somewhat reasonable. The space is stark and modern, and the food is some of the best Italian in LA. Alimento is no one’s weekly haunt, but if it’s been a while since you ate there, you should consider a trip back soon.
Mh Zh is one of our favorite restaurants of 2017. This mediterranean/Israeli spot in Sunset Junction has a fantastic menu that you cannot go wrong with - think mounds of soul-curing meats and vegetables in sauces that will shake you to your core. On top of that, you could order everything on the menu and your meal would cost about $100 total. Mh Zh is small and basically a sidewalk restaurant - the interior is tiny, and the atmosphere is better outside. The only downsides? Mh Zh gets busy, so come here early if you want a table. And they unfortunately don’t have a liquor license (yet).
The second location of the massively popular Thai joint might not have the partytime setting and beer towers like its original Sunset Strip locale, but its kitschy feel is the perfect match for Silver Lake. This is some of the finest Thai food in the city, in a casual setting suited for almost anything. Crowds can get crazy.
This tiny spot on a quiet stretch of Hyperion is an excellent addition to your Eastside date night rotation. The menu is small, but features some really interesting takes on raw fish, from a more traditional striped bass ceviche with xni-pec (habanero salsa), to an experimental yellowfin tostada with habanero sorbet on top. It’s tough to go wrong - unless you don’t order the scallop shooters, which come with pomegranate and serrano, and are the kind of shots we plan on doing the most this summer.
Botanica is one of those places where everyone looks like that bearded musician your cool friends like and whose name you can never remember. In other words, it’s peak Silver Lake - the food is healthy, there’s a social-media-friendly patio, and the drinks are herb-infused. There’s also a teeny market attached in case you want to try (and fail) to reproduce some of Botanica’s dishes in your own home. You might want to, because Botanica does serve really good food, especially during the day. Get anything that involves their focaccia and bacon.
A very not-boring wine bar, Same Same also serves really excellent Thai food. Located in a no-name stripmall along Sunset, Same Same has a solid wine list (that goes great with spicy food), a lively space full of people who aren’t whispering in corners, and a Khao Soi you’ll dream about for days afterwards.
Little Pine is a 100% organic, vegan restaurant owned by Moby where all the proceeds go to animal welfare charities. We usually wouldn’t advise going to a place that you have to say, “I’m not joking” after describing, but Little Pine is actually good. The space is bright and airy and a little eccentrically decorated, but that’s about the extent of its pretension. No one here is making you say affirmations or letting you know that their lifestyle is better than yours. It feels like a really friendly neighborhood spot with a wide-ranging menu that will leave you pretty satisfied.
At first glance, there’s nothing particularly special about Fat Dragon - the casual, order-at-the-counter Chinese spot seems pretty straightforward. But then you realize this is the kind of place every neighborhood in LA should have, but doesn’t. Great food (get the eggplant and spicy wontons), affordable prices, and efficient service to get you back on your couch in no time. The rest of LA should be jealous.
L & E is one of those places you pass in your car with friends and everybody stops and says, “Wait, what the f*ck is that?” The two-story neighborhood oyster bar looks like it was pulled straight out of a Woody Allen movie, with a big, beautiful space and people who look like well-placed extras all having a good time. There’s not a better spot in Silver Lake to grab some fresh oysters and a couple glasses of wine, and enjoy one of the best restaurant atmospheres in town.
Still one of the best restaurants in Silver Lake that nobody knows about, Bowery Bungalow serves excellent North African/Mediterranean fusion food in a refurbished bungalow space. Its casual setting is the perfect place to come in with friends and have some fun on the back patio, and intimate enough for some date night action.
A super low-key spot on Silver Lake Boulevard, Gingergrass is a great, casual spot for when no one feels like deciding where to go. You can’t go wrong with any of the noodle bowls or banh mis, but the house entree section is where you’ll find their best stuff. The sauteed eggplant with pork is vinegary and delicious, and the shaking beef is also worth your time.
Technically located in East Hollywood, a.k.a. Silverlake’s extension, this spot hugely influenced the entire Eastside psyche with their healthy and actually-satisfying breakfast/brunch menu. Only open till 4pm everyday, you have to go to this order-at-the-counter cafe already at peace with how long you’ll be waiting in line, but the food is always worth it.
A lot of newer Izakayas cropping up around town (Tsukabi, Mtn) are doing a more modern, American-influenced take on Japanese cuisine. Not Osen. This tavern keeps things super traditional, with wood panels, servers in kimonos, and grill smoke that will not leave your clothes for a few hours. Food-wise, they’re doing great, affordable yakitori skewers and sushi. If you want to eat a dinner that doesn’t look like your last eight restaurant outings, come to Osen.
Sure, the lines at this massively popular ramen spot border on ridiculous, but stay strong. The ramen inside is some of the best in the city and you can do take-out. Seriously, do take-out. It tastes just as good on your couch and you get an extra couple hours tacked on to your Netflix binge.
Most people come to Red Lion Tavern solely to drink and we don’t blame them for it. Their back patio beer garden is an Eastside treasure and always worthy of a beer boot or two or three with friends. Just don’t forget about their food. The gigantic sausage platter is a no-brainer for big groups and we’re definitely not mad about their chicken schnitzel either.
Remember in high school when all the cool kids would hang out behind the gym? Well, they grew up, moved to Silver Lake, and now they hang out behind some construction curtains at Speranza, the neighborhood Italian restaurant with no signage. Once you find your way in, you’ll be met with a leafy outdoor patio and simple and solid Italian food (get the bolognese and the lamb chops). You can find better Italian close by, but you’re at Speranza to sit outside and feel like you’re part of the cool crowd. Which, by the way, is a big one - make reservations or you’re going to be waiting.
Blair’s wins the award for being one of the few places in Silver Lake that’s actually full of people who live in Silver Lake. The brick-walled and white table-clothed American bistro does tend to run on the pricier side, but that doesn’t stop locals from filling the place up each night. They know they’ll still be served one of the most dependable meals in the neighborhood.